How many different soccer competitions can you name? 10? 20? More? No matter how many you can name we doubt you can name them all, as there are literally HUNDREDS of professional soccer leagues and tournaments played around the world.
Some of these competitions are very high profile, attracting audiences from all corners of the globe. The FIFA World Cup, for example, is an incredibly popular event. It’s estimated that just over one BILLION people saw the 2014 World Cup Final. The English Premier League is another very popular competition, and is broadcast in over 150 countries worldwide.
Many soccer competitions have a far lower profile by comparison. The leagues and tournaments in a lot of countries attract mostly regional audiences, and in some cases the participants are virtually unheard of outside their own country. That doesn’t make them any less important to the sport of course, but they certainly don’t have the glamour and prestige of the higher profile competitions.
They don’t tend to attract as much betting interest either, as soccer bettors typically focus on the higher profile competitions. Both types of competitions have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Our page on choosing which competition to bet on explains these in detail, so we won’t get into them here.
What we will say, however, is that it’s important to know as much as possible about the competition(s) you decide to bet on. That’s one of the reasons we’ve added this section to our soccer betting guide. We’ve provided comprehensive guides to all the major soccer competitions, and information on several others too.
To make it easy to find what you’re looking for, we’ve split the competitions into the following four categories.
We watch a lot of soccer. And when we say a lot, we really mean A LOT. We watch soccer not only because we love it, but because we take our soccer betting very seriously. There’s plenty of money to be made from betting on this sport, but only if we work hard and do the necessary research. Watching games is an important part of that research. Since we’re big soccer fans, we actually enjoy watching as many games as we can. We’d watch even more if time allowed.
One of the benefits of watching so many games is that we’re able to follow a number of different competitions. This has helped us become familiar with several different soccer leagues and tournaments around the world, which from a betting perspective makes it easier to find good opportunities to place a bet.
We don’t bet on EVERY competition we watch though.
We strongly believe it’s important to avoid betting on too many different competitions. We don’t like to limit ourselves too much, so we do bet on quite a few. But trying to bet on ALL the leagues and tournaments we watch would be a mistake. We noticed that we tend to get better results when we focus on our favorites.
That’s the approach we suggest that you take too. If there are any soccer competitions that you especially enjoy watching, or know the most about, they’re the ones you should focus on. It doesn’t matter if it’s one competition, or several. Just be careful not to spread yourself TOO thin.
We do most of our betting on eight different competitions, but two of them only take place every four years. So, we’re usually just betting on six. That helps narrow our focus, while still leaving us with plenty of options.
We’re listing our personal favorites in their own category for a couple of reasons. We’ll explain them shortly, but first here’s the list.
FIFA World Cup*
Spanish Primera Div*
The FA Cup*
You may notice that these are all very high profile competitions. That’s one of the reasons for listing them in a separate category. These are among the biggest of all soccer competitions, and ones that you should really be familiar with. Make sure you take the time to learn about each one.
Now, you don’t have to bet on these competitions just because they’re OUR favorites. We do think they’re ideal for betting on though. We do bet on some lower profile competitions from time to time, but these get the majority of our attention. They all provide some excellent opportunities for making money.
If you don’t have any favorites of your own, or don’t know much about any competitions yet, you should seriously consider betting on the ones listed here. We provide specific advice on how to successfully bet on them, which you’ll find to be helpful.
This is another reason why we’ve listed these competitions in a separate category. We’ve produced VERY detailed guides to each one of them, and they go way beyond what you’d expect. They include all kinds of useful information and advice that will significantly increase your chances of making some money.
These guides are linked below, along with a quick overview of each competition too.
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup is an international knockout tournament featuring national teams. Most countries in the world are eligible to enter at the qualification process.
This tournament is THE biggest soccer competition in the world. It’s the absolute pinnacle of professional soccer. There’s simply no greater achievement in the sport than winning the World Cup. And this is an achievement that few national teams have managed. Only eight different teams have been crowned world champions. Brazil has lifted the trophy the most times, winning the competition on five separate occasions.
World Cup tournaments are held once every four years. The qualification process takes place in the period between each one. All eligible national teams are entered into a qualifying group, and must play the other teams in their group twice. The top two teams then qualify for the main tournament, which is typically referred to as “The World Cup Finals.”
The number of teams that take part in the finals has changed over the years. It’s currently 32, but that’s increasing to 48 in 2026.
The UEFA European Championship is another knockout tournament featuring national teams. As the name suggests, it’s only for teams from Europe. Just like the World Cup, teams have to qualify for the tournament by playing a series of group games.
Also held every four years, the European Championship is usually played in a single country. The host nation varies, and is chosen by governing body UEFA. In 2020, however, the tournament will be played across the entire continent. Games will take place in thirteen different cities located in thirteen different countries.
The European Championship has featured 24 teams since 2016. The first round is a group stage, with the teams split into six groups of four. The top two teams in each group progress to the knockout stages, along with the four third-placed finishers with the best results.
This is an international tournament for club teams. Many consider it to be the most prestigious club tournament in the world that features the top teams in Europe. Teams qualify by either winning their domestic league or finishing in the top few places. The number of teams admitted from each country varies, and depends on the UEFA co-efficient.
The UEFA Champions League was previously known as the European Cup. The name was changed in 1992, and a new format was used from that point too. The European Cup was always a straight knockout tournament, but the Champions League features an additional group stage.
32 teams qualify for the group stage, and these teams are split into eight groups of four. Group winners and second-placed teams all proceed to the next round, when the tournament reverts to a knockout format.
The UEFA Europa League is another international tournament for club teams. It’s essentially the second-tier European competition, after the Champions League. Teams can qualify by winning one of their domestic cups, or by finishing high enough in their domestic league. The third-placed teams from the group stage of the Champions League also qualify.
This tournament was founded in 2009. It was basically a merger of two existing tournaments: the UEFA Cup and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. They were both straight knockout tournaments, but the Europa League incorporates a first-round group stage.
A total of 48 teams enter the Europa League at the group stage, and are split into 12 groups of four. The top two teams progress to the knockouts, which is when the teams from the Champions League enter the competition.
The English Premier League is the top-tier domestic league in England. It’s considered by many to be the highest quality domestic league in the world, and it’s DEFINITELY the richest. Of the top ten most valuable soccer clubs in the world, six play in the English Premier League.
One aspect of the English Premier League that really stands out is its competitive nature. In many of the leading domestic leagues, only a few teams actually have a realistic chance of winning. The English Premier League is different though. There are usually several contenders each season, and there have been several different winners over the years.
The English Premier League was formed in 1992, replacing the old First Division. There were 24 teams in the league back then, but now there are only 20. Each team plays every other team twice during a season.
The Spanish Primera Division is more commonly known as La Liga. It’s the top-tier league in Spain, and almost as popular as the English Premier League. It features two of the best-known clubs in the world: Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Real Madrid and Barcelona have dominated La Liga for many years. There have only been two other winners this century, with Atletico Madrid taking the title in 2014 and Valencia in 2004. This is one reason why the English Premier League is more popular. As exciting as La Liga can be, it’s almost certain that one of the two big teams will win it each year.
The MLS is the primary soccer league in the United States and Canada. It was founded in 1996, shortly after the United States hosted the FIFA World Cup for the first time. Although soccer wasn’t very popular in the United States up until that point, it now continues to grow in popularity.
The quality has been improving too. The MLS was fairly low standard compared to other leagues originally, but it now attracts much better players. It’s considered to be one of the top leagues in the world now, and we expect to see continued improvements. Although it’s unlikely to ever rival the NFL in terms of domestic popularity, it is getting closer.
A total of 22 teams compete in the MLS. 19 are from the US, and 3 are from Canada. The regular season sees each team play 34 games, and 12 teams then progress to the postseason. They compete in the playoffs to see which team is crowned champion.
The FA Cup is a knockout tournament played in England. It’s the oldest soccer competition in the world, founded all the way back in 1871. Professional AND amateur teams take part in the tournament, although the professional teams don’t enter at the very beginning. The total number of entrants can vary from one year to the next, but it’s usually a few hundred.
There are six rounds of qualifying before the official first round. At this stage, teams from League One and League Two enter. Teams from the Premier League and the Championship then enter for the third round.
The FA Cup is famous for regular “giant-killings.” This term refers to games where a team wins against opposition that is supposedly much superior. They happen frequently in the early rounds, but are less common in the later rounds. The tournament is almost always won by a team from the top-tier league.
International Soccer Competitions – National Teams
Few international soccer competitions feature national teams. We already listed the two biggest ones in the previous section. One of them was the FIFA World Cup, which is the only international tournament open to ALL national teams. The rest are only open to specific regions.
In addition to the two already covered, there are five other tournaments that we’d class as major ones in this category. These are as follows.
AFC Asian Cup*
CONCACAF Gold Cup*
OFC Nations Cup*
Here are some basic details about these competitions. We’ve also provided more complete guides on each one.
AFC Asian Cup
The AFC Asian Cup is one of the oldest international tournaments. It was founded in 1956, and is held every four years. 47 national teams from around Asia are eligible to enter, and they all have to go through a qualifying process.
16 teams used to make it through to the main tournament, but that’s now been increased to 24. The tournament starts with a group stage, with each team facing three opponents in their group. This is followed by a straight knockout format through to the final.
This is the continental competition for African national teams. First held in 1957, it takes place every two years. The venue switches between countries each time, and the host nation qualifies automatically. A further 15 teams enter the tournament via the qualification process, which involves playing a series of group games.
The main tournament then starts with a group stage. There are four groups, each with four teams. Group-winners and runners-up advance to the quarter-finals, which is an elimination round. There’s one more elimination round for the semi-finals, with the two winners progressing to the final. The losing semi-finalists face each other in a third-place playoff.
The CONCACAF Gold Cup is an international tournament for national teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean. It was founded in 1991, to replace the now defunct CONCACAF Championship. It’s been almost exclusively won by Mexico and the United States ever since. Mexico has seven wins under their belt, and the United States has five. The only other country who managed to pull off a win was Canada, back in 2000.
Contrary to what is expected for this type of tournament, teams from outside the relevant regions have been invited to participate in the Gold Cup as guests. National teams from Brazil, South Korea, Colombia and some other countries have all taken part in this competition. No guests have participated since the tournament was expanded in 2005 though.
The Copa America was founded in 1916, making it the oldest international soccer tournament in the world. It’s contested by ten national teams from South America and two additional teams from other regions. Mexico is usually one of the additional teams, and others to have taken part include Japan, the United States and Costa Rica. None of the teams from outside South America have ever won.
There is no qualification for the Copa America, as there are only ten South America teams that are eligible to enter. The two additional teams are selected and invited by the governing body in South America, CONMEBOL. Like most of the other competitions in this category, the tournament starts with a group stage and then moves on to a knockout format.
The final tournament in this category is the newest one. The OFC Nations Cup was formed in 1996, when the Oceania Football Confederation was given official confederation status by FIFA. It was played every two years at first, but is now held every four years.
There have been several changes to the qualifying process for the OFC Nations Cup over the years, and the tournament format has been regularly amended too. Currently, this competition features only eight teams. These teams are split into two groups of four for the initial group stage, with the group winners and runners-up progressing to the semi-finals. The semi-finals are single elimination games, and the two winners meet in the final.
International soccer competitions are not JUST for national teams. There are several that feature CLUB teams from different countries. Most of these are held annually, and based on a knockout format. They tend to be very prestigious, as they’re not easy to qualify for.
The exact qualification process varies from one competition to another. Typically, teams qualify based on their domestic performances. They might have to win their domestic league, for example, or finish in the top few places. Some international club competitions are exclusively for teams who have won other specific tournaments.
Two of the biggest international club competitions are the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. We already covered both of these earlier, as they’re among our favorite competitions. The other major competitions in this category are as follows.
AFC Champions League*
CAF Champions League*
CONCACAF Champions League*
UEFA Super Cup*
FIFA Club World Cup*
OFC Champions League*
We’ve written guides for each of these tournaments. You’ll find these linked below, along with a brief overview of each competition.
AFC Champions League
The AFC Champions League is more commonly known as the Asian Champions League. It was originally founded in 1967 as the Asian Champion Club Tournament, but has changed names and formats a couple of times over the years. The current format has been in place since 2002.
Held on an annual basis, the AFC Champions League features a total of 32 teams. Clubs from the strongest Asian leagues can qualify directly for the tournament based on their domestic performances. Eligible clubs from other leagues have to go through extra qualifying rounds.
This annual tournament is for the leading clubs in Africa. The winners of all official top-tier leagues in Africa qualify automatically, along with the runners-up in the 12 highest-ranked leagues. The winner of the previous season’s CAF Champions League qualifies too.
64 teams in total take part each season. There’s a preliminary round of single-elimination games to reduce the field to 32, and then two further elimination rounds. The eight teams remaining after those rounds are then split into two groups of four for a group stage. The group winners and runners-up eventually progress to the semi-finals for another elimination round.
This is the premier continental competition for soccer clubs based in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. It’s an annual tournament, with fixtures played between the months of February and May. It was formed in 2008 to replace the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
24 teams currently qualify for the tournament each season, based on their performances domestically. The 24 qualifying teams are split into eight groups of three for an initial group stage. The eight group winners then progress to the knockout stages, which are each played over two legs.
The Copa Libertadores is the most prestigious soccer competition for South American clubs. It was founded back in 1960, but has undergone many changes over the years. Both the format and the qualifying process have been amended on several occasions.
It’s fair to say that this is one of the most complicated soccer tournaments. The qualifying process is somewhat convoluted, and there are multiple stages to the tournament. It’s not easy to sum it all up in just a couple of sentences, so we suggest reading the following guide to find out more.
This is a single game competition contested by the winners of the UEFA Champions League and the winners of the UEFA Europe League. It’s played annually, usually just before most European domestic seasons get underway.
Although teams only have to win one game to win this competition, the UEFA Super Cup is still considered a prestigious trophy. This is simply because of the entry requirements. Teams only get to play in this competition when they’ve won one of the leading European tournaments, so even being asked to compete in this competition is considered a huge honor.
The FIFA Club World Cup is a relatively recent addition to the soccer calendar. It was first held in 2000, when it was known as the Club World Championship. The format and name were both changed in 2006, and it’s been held annually ever since.
Entrance to this tournament is earned by winning one of the previous season’s primary continental club competitions. Namely the five we’ve discussed above, and the UEFA Champions league. The host nation also qualifies, making seven teams in total
The tournament is played in a straight knockout format, with one preliminary playoff. The winners of the UEFA Champions League and the Copa Libertadores receive byes to the semi-finals.
The OFC Champions League has been played annually since 2007. It features the leading club teams from Oceania. Qualification is based on performances in domestic competitions from the previous season. The champions of the strongest leagues in the region qualify automatically, while other champions have to play in an extra qualifying round.
The tournament is then played in a group format to start with. The 16 qualifying teams are split into four groups of four, and play each of the other teams in their group once. The four group winners then progress to the semi-finals for a two-legged elimination tie. The final is also played over two legs, which is something we don’t typically see in a soccer tournament.
Domestic club competitions are the cornerstone of professional soccer. For all the glamour and prestige that accompanies international competitions, it’s the domestic ones that ultimately make the sport what it is. These are the competitions that soccer fans watch week in and week out, and the ones that players train for on a daily basis. The sport just wouldn’t be the same without them.
Of course, there are many domestic club competitions that are glamorous and prestigious in their own right. Some could easily be considered the biggest and best-known of ALL soccer competitions. There are many more leagues and tournaments that don’t get anywhere near the same kind of exposure though, and they’re still absolutely vital to the sport.
We chose to organize these competitions according to their location. You’ll find details on each competition in the sections listed below.
We’re planning to add more pages covering soccer tournaments in other countries in the future. For now, here’s an A-Z list of most countries where soccer is played professionally. The list includes the top tier leagues for each country, and the major cup competitions too.